Many wanted Zahid to quit

Tell all: Tajuddin speaking to the media at Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Days after being removed as an Umno supreme council member, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has trained his sights on the person who axed him.

In a tell-all press conference lasting more than one-and-a-half hours, he claimed there was a movement led by Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Datuk Seri Najib Razak to pressure Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi into resigning as party president.Tajuddin alleged that the plot was to collect signatures from division chiefs for a memorandum urging Ahmad Zahid’s resignation, and that preliminary internal party studies had shown that this move was supported by 130 out of 191 Umno division chiefs.

He said the plot was hatched in a meeting at his house in May 2020. He did not give a specific date.

“The purpose of this meeting is to draft a memorandum to urge Zahid to resign (as party president) for Umno’s interest.

“So, we agreed at this meeting that we should draft this memorandum ... Tok Mat was leading and then ‘bossku’,” he said, referring to the nicknames of Mohamad and Najib.

Aside from Mohamad and Najib, Tajuddin alleged that the meeting at his house was also attended by several renowned leaders including Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.

Tajuddin, who showed reporters pictures of the clandestine meeting at his house, said he could reveal the names of the 130 Umno division chiefs who were in favour of Ahmad Zahid resigning as party president.

“There are about 18 division chiefs in Perak and 18 in Selangor who support this. If there is a need to show the list, I can do it.

“But there is no need to show, because I protect my friends,” he said.

However, he said the plan to hand the memorandum to Ahmad Zahid failed to take off when Mohamad suddenly backtracked after the Umno deputy president was threatened by “budak Zahid” (Zahid’s boys).

As for Najib, Tajuddin claimed that the Pekan MP made a U-turn because the former prime minister was allegedly seeking to be nominated as Barisan Nasional chairman.

“I said to him ‘Datuk Seri, we have to make a decision and that is urging Ahmad Zahid to resign. But instead, we are nominating ‘bossku’ as Barisan chairman ... in this meeting at my home?’.

“How did he respond? Najib was silent. He did not say a single word,” said Tajuddin, who also swore during the press conference that he was telling the truth.

Earlier in his remarks, he said it was Umno’s previous practice that its leaders would voluntarily step down from appointed party positions.

“If he (Ahmad Zahid) loves the party and (cares for) its struggle, it is time for him to let go of the president position,” he added.

Tajuddin also said the Umno presidency should be held by the prime minister of the day, as it has been the practice in the late Tun Hussein Onn and former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.

“This is what’s happening now, where some people would use their position in the party to pressure the prime minister.

“Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should be the party president, he is the prime minister. We should have a party election,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tajuddin conceded that he would likely be dropped as an Umno candidate in the 15th General Election (GE15), claiming there were already such plans in motion.

“In my area, I have already become a target. But it’s okay, as I was a four-term elected representative,” he said.

He made his debut after winning the Kampong Gajah state seat against PAS in the 2004 general election and in 2008, he won the Pasir Salak parliamentary seat and is still its MP today.

Last week, a letter dated June 21 by Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan to Tajuddin, stating that the Pasir Salak MP’s services as an Umno supreme council member had been terminated, made its rounds on social media.

Ahmad Zahid said the sudden termination of Tajuddin as a supreme council member isn’t surprising as the Pasir Salak MP himself should know the reasons for his removal.

Former Selangor Barisan information chief Isham Jalil was then appointed last Friday as a supreme council member.

In July last year, Ahmad Zahid also removed Tajuddin as the Umno elections director and replaced him with Mohamad, the deputy president.

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